Written by: Amanda Lindemuth
“Apply to go to the 2018 ASDA District 6/7 Meeting!” OKAY! I thought — I knew I needed to get involved now, or I wouldn’t get involved at all. I had no idea what this really was, I just knew it was a trip out of the Marquette bubble where we would learn things we don’t get exposed to in our traditional dental school classroom curriculum — you know, the spiel they always give: “things you don’t learn in the classroom… building a network with our future colleagues… etc.” What I expected and imagined in my head about how a dental student meeting would look like was not realistic. I pictured a bunch of nerds sitting, rapt, in lectures on teeth, business models, and new dental tech. In reality it’s a bunch of dental students, dressed like grown ups, wandering around, not knowing where to get their lunch from (we (Marquette ASDA… not the other schools) accidentally ate the lunch of a nursing conference… it was delicious), sitting in presentations — sometimes very intently listening, other times worrying about the upcoming exam Monday (I definitely took a Microbiology practice exam during a presentation from a doctor about life after graduation… I have four years until I need to worry about that anyways, right?), and sometimes just trying to stay awake after either traveling all morning, or staying out too late the night before. But when I look back on the overall outcome of the trip, the spiel we heard beforehand ended up being true — I learned things that I know we don’t learn in the classroom, I met people from parts of the country I’ve never been to before (and watched eyes open wide with each person I told that I’m from Alaska), and heard from “new dentists” about what the first few years after graduation look like (and how much the appreciated what they learned by being involved in ASDA). We built friendships with upperclassmen at our own school that we don’t get to interact with on a day-to-day basis. We heard other people’s stories of interviewing at Marquette and how much they wanted to go but didn’t get accepted. We learned about business and subjects that aren’t a part of our school curriculum and started (or continued) building a nationwide network to learn from and grow with.
After three days of classes/lectures on health, leadership, and a lot on DSOs (dental service organizations… basically big dental companies that take you under their umbrella?… still not quite sure exactly what these are, except that they aren’t all bad, but I’m sure I’ll learn more on future ASDA trips), these are the biggest things I learned:
1: We go to a fantastic school - we are blessed with our community — our ASDA community/leadership, our administration, our classmates. Hearing some of the stories from students at other schools makes me so grateful for the opportunity to attend Marquette University School of Dentistry.
2: Regardless of our school affiliation, pretty much all dental students are working towards improvement in all aspects of our field/profession - we all have ideas of how to work together to improve things ranging from the ethical implications of our licensing exams to maintaining mental and physical health throughout our education and career. We all want to improve our communities and know that we also need to improve ourselves continually to make the best/greatest impact.
3: We’re all working one day at a time - dental school is HARD (and can feel like hell at time… hello “hell week(s)”) but dentistry is FUN! It’s good to get out of the dental school bubble and be reminded about what we have to look forward to after graduation.
4: Talk with upperclassmen! (and people from other schools) - It’s good to hear what struggles people ahead of you in school went through and be reminded that we’ll make it through! Also, there were a lot of D1s present from other schools and we could be seeing each other at events for the next four years — make those connections! Especially if you are thinking about wanting a national position at any point in your dental school career!
5: Follow the lead of people who have been on an ASDA trip before, but also stay true to yourself - There will be people who go out and stay out late every night. If that’s your scene, go for it! You will NOT be alone. On the other side, if you just want to go home and go to bed, or hit a wall, that’s okay too! Someone will always be willing to go home early. or stay out late. I’m not big on going out and drinking, and I still had a blast! I went to the socials and networked and talked to people, but when the event was over and people were dispersing, I went to bed while others stayed out and went to more bars. Don’t be afraid to ask what the expectation is, but also don’t feel pressured to do something out of character.